MIISTA REVIEWS: NOCTURNAL ANIMALS BY TOM FORD
An icon in the fashion world and an award-winning filmmaker returned to the director's chair with Nocturnal Animals.
Boy Oh Boy, this movie doesn’t leave you skipping. It opens with a graphic sequence in slo-mo of dancing women. It’s a lot to take in: they are all naked, decisively plus-sized and almost annoyingly joyous about it. I found it a bit forced but remained in my seat. Good idea, considering that it might be the best movie of 2016.
I would imagine that this movie must be quite a moment for Tom himself.
Since Single Man it's been 7 years. He he had a son, opened 100 stores for his brand and... came across a novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright.
Here's when things went up a notch.
Ford loved the book so much that he bought the rights to film it. And there is not a single TOM FORD product in it.
“I want people to take me seriously as a filmmaker, and so I didn’t want it to be an ad for Tom Ford designs. It was just — no.”
The fashion side of his life may be responsible for his impeccable eye to detail but it's Tom's narrative skills that make Nocturnal Animals an art form.
Brilliant cast is his safety net, as well. We start with the character called Susan played by Amy Adams.
Amy plays a very successful art gallerist Susan, who is feeling depressed and dissatisfied with her life choices. Though Susan lives in this gorgeous house in L.A and her day-to-day reality seems to be flawless, all we can see is that emotionally she's dead inside. When she receives the manuscript from her ex-husband Edward, played by Jake Gylenhaall, she examines her past and her choices.
Gylenhaall not only plays the ex-husband but he's also a character of Edward's novel. The narrative of the movie comes from Susan reading the manuscript. You're able to see their relationship through her memory of it while she’s reading the book.
She becomes haunted by the novel which is titled after the affectionate nickname Edward once gave her: Nocturnal Animal. But it turns out to be a violent revenge tale written to express: this is what happens when you let people go, this is what you've done to me. And here is what happens when the weak guy decides to get tough.
Well, she done him wrong. Susan broke his heart in the past by leaving him for another man and by declaring he didn’t have the right stuff to be an author – that he was insecure and weak. Strangely Ford's thriller allows you to feel empathetic and attached to her. I mean, it would be easy to hate Susan, instead we feel her pain, her regret. She's a victim of throw-away culture, upbringing and her own insecurity.
Nocturnal Animals is also about the power of fiction. It's only the manuscript that got Susan all hot and bothered. Even though I knew it's a story within a story but it shook me up as well. I feared and felt for these characters as much as I cared for Susan.
The movie is a revenge tale, it's about pay back in the worst way. Combining love, art, loss and death together to create a dark story. But what Jake's character is getting out of it is more of a triumph than a win. Susan inspired Edward's story, inspired him to be a better writer but that was all. Him killing himself in the book is him killing himself off in Susan's life.They will never be and her regret is his ultimate revenge. What she's getting out of this is the gift of time to be able to reflect and sit with these feelings.
It’s a movie about ﬁnding the people in your life that mean something and not letting them get away.
Finally, Nocturnal Animals is a movie built out of suspense that'd be strong enough for Lynch or Hitchcock.Thanks to the beautiful music written by Abel Korzeniowski and the power-duo from Edward's book: Michael Shannon as an archetypal lawman, a man of man of few words.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, an original villain, charismatic and charming, not just a stereotypical one. They both ad up to the strange energy of the thriller.
There are so many things that I admire in “Nocturnal Animals,” but nothing will sum it up better than the words straight from director's mouth:
"I want this film to achieve what I always want. That is to truly speak for itself."
Tom, I think you've made it.